Top subjects in the US

More than one million international students from all over the world choose to study in the USA. We explore which subjects are most popular among undergraduate and postgraduate international students. We hope that this will help you decide which course to pursue when studying in this massive country.


What are the best subjects to study in the USA?


Statistics for the academic year 2021/2022 showed the top five fields of study for international students in the USA as being in the following areas:





A challenging but rewarding degree, medicine is a popular subject the world over. However, the USA is particularly desirable for medicine courses as it has some of the best medicine programmes in the world based at top institutions such as Stanford, Harvard and Yale University. However, the USA is different to other countries when it comes to studying medicine as it is only offered at postgraduate level. 


You must have completed a three to four year undergraduate degree beforehand. Most universities in the USA will require a relevant bachelor’s degree in a related field such as biologychemistry or biomedical sciences. You will also need to pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) in order to apply. As with any international student application to all universities, you will also need to satisfy the English language requirements.


Top medical schools (QS Top Universities 2022):



Find more US universities offering medicine.




Similar to medicine, dentistry schools also tend to require students to complete an undergraduate degree prior to applying. Again, you will usually need to study a relevant degree beforehand such as biology, chemistry or physics. Some schools offer pre-requisite courses to prepare you for a dentistry course.


Before applying to a dentistry school in the USA, you will also need to take the Dental Admission Test which assesses your scientific knowledge and academic aptitude. This score will be considered alongside your grade point averages (GPA), interview performance and any letters of recommendation. Upon graduating from dentistry school in the USA, you will gain a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM) which is needed to practice dentistry.


Top dentistry schools (QS Top Universities 2022):



Find more US universities with dentistry programmes.




You can study biology at both undergraduate and postgraduate level at university in the USA. The great thing about a biology degree is that is broad and there are a range of subjects to choose from such as marine biologyzoology, ecology, biochemistry. Therefore, you can choose to major in an area you most enjoy.


This subject is likely to be one of the most popular because it is accepted as a pre-med course in the USA. So, future medical students can study biology as an acceptable bachelor’s degree before applying to medicine.


Top universities for biology (QS Top Universities 2022):



See more US universities with biology courses.




If you have an interest in the universe, planets and want to know more about space, astronomy would be the right field for you. On this course you won’t just be considering life’s biggest questions. Astronomy degrees provide you with highly transferrable skills such as statistics, mathematics, physicsdata analysis and IT. Therefore, studying astronomy is respected by employers as the course is academically challenging and reflects both a hardworking nature and logical thinking.


At undergraduate level, you can expect an astronomy degree to last three to four years whereas a postgraduate course tends to take between one and two years depending on your preference of either full or part time.


So why choose astronomy in the USA in particular? Well, you’ve probably heard of NASA, the U.S. space agency with a headquarters based in Washington. This is an example of the influence the USA has within the field of space research and may be why international students seek to study astronomy in the USA.


Top universities for astronomy (QS Top Universities 2022):



Browse more US universities with astronomy degrees.




The USA is a prestigious study destination among international students and engineering is a highly desirable degree subject. Graduating from an institution with an engineering degree from the USA will greatly increase your employment chances.


There are several fields within engineering such as mechanical,  aerospace, marinebiomedicalelectrical and civil engineering. Each leads to quite different careers so it’s important to understand what to expect before applying.


Engineering graduates of all disciplines are often sought after for their specialist skills and salaries tend to be high. So, it’s hardly surprising that this is such a popular subject to study in the USA. Engineering is one of the four STEM subjects which are in high demand in the USA which has meant government funding to encourage more students to pursue engineering careers.


Top universities for engineering (QS Top Universities 2022):



Find more US universities offering engineering courses.

 Business management


Many international students are attracted to business schools in America for their global reputation and high quality of teaching. Business courses in the top US universities are highly competitive and challenging but can open up plenty of employment opportunities and the potential for high earnings.


The USA is also a major player in the global business scene with many leading companies and business-minded individuals. Studying an English-taught business course is also highly desired by employers around the world and many US universities have strong links to industry-leading firms.


You can study business at both undergraduate and postgraduate level with business degrees covering accountingeconomics, operations, strategy and more. A master’s in business is typically known as an MBA (Master of Business Administration) which is a well-respected qualification, particularly if gained from a university in the states.


Top universities for business (QS Top Universities 2022):


  • Harvard University
  • Stanford University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of California, Berkeley


Find more US universities with business courses.




A total of ten US institutions sit within the world’s top 20 universities for accounting and finance (QS Top University Rankings 2022). This dominance within the educational field of finance is also the case within the professional sector as the US is considered an influential player in the industry. This makes the U.S. an appealing country to study finance as the programmes are considered top quality and links between universities and industry are strong. This therefore means that students can receive opportunities like internships from top financial firms while gaining a world-class degree.


New York city for example, is home to the world-famous financial district of Wall Street where the New York Stock Exchange is based along with other top banks and corporations. Do you want to launch your financial career in the US? Check out the below institutions for inspiration:


Top universities for finance (QS Top Universities 2022):


Explore other US universities with finance courses.


Now that you’ve looked at a few universities in the US, use our course matcher tool to find a course which is tailored to your grades and preferences. While you research, stay up to date with all the latest news for international students studying in the USA.

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